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Discover OCAD U

Why choose OCAD University?

We have applicants of all pathways coming to OCAD University. Let's unpack why this school is right for you, and what you'll need to apply as an international applicant to OCAD U.

OCAD U is a unique and specialized place to study the practice of art and design. As a student here, you'll be immersed in a diverse community made of students ranging in age from 17 to 69, from many different backgrounds, coming to OCAD U from across Canada and the world.

At OCAD University you'll work hard because you'll want to. Because you will be inspired. Because you can't imagine being anywhere else.

As Canada’s "university of the imagination," OCAD University delivers art, design, media and interdisciplinary education in a learning environment that integrates studio-based education with historical, critical and scientific enquiry. OCAD U graduates and faculty have made their mark in unexpected ways, contributing to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines.

The breadth of our program offerings, the quality of our faculty and the uniqueness of our school experience are some of the main reasons why students choose to spend their four years of study at OCAD University.

OCAD U has specialized in art and design longer and more intensely than any school of its kind in Canada. Since 1876, our faculty and alumni have included the most influential icons in Canada's visual culture. This heritage has allowed us to develop the most comprehensive curriculum — and the broadest choice of majors — in the country. We offer you the academic rigour of a university with the experimental freedom of a hands-on, small class studio environment.

OCAD U is a creative community. While at OCAD U, you will be exposed to a diverse range of ideas, practices and people. Because everyone is focused on art and design, this is also a strong community. There are informal gatherings with peers, opportunities to engage with visiting experts, or participate in exhibitions, competitions, forums and events related to the professional community. The 4000+ member student population represents a wide variety of geographical, cultural and educational backgrounds. The result? A vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

OCAD U is located in the heart of Toronto, Canada's largest centre for design, culture and business. As one of the world's most multicultural cities, Toronto is a vibrant nexus that brings a diversity of creative forces together. And where great minds meet, magic happens.

At OCAD U, you are connected to all of this. Our downtown location links us (and you) with an extended campus of design studios as well as art galleries, artist-run centers and museums that exhibit the work of many leading artists and designers, including many OCAD U graduates. The Art Gallery of Ontario is right next door, and you are automatically a member.

Throughout the year, representatives from the Admissions & Recruitment Office visit international high schools around the world. To find out more and to see if we will be visiting your school, please admissions [at] (email) us.

Representatives from OCAD U attend several National Portfolio Day Events throughout North America. Bring your work, have it critiqued and meet with OCAD U Faculty and staff.

What's Required to Apply?

The admissions process has important steps you need to follow to be a successful candidate for enrolment. Offers of admission to OCAD U’s programs are based primarily on the strength of the applicant’s portfolio or writing sample. All offers are conditional upon meeting the minimum academic requirements and supplying all required documentation.


Visit Preparing a Portfolio for more details.

Your portfolio is a collection of work that represents your individual creative and technical experiences and accomplishments and should be a visual representation of who you are. You need to demonstrate that you are a visual communicator and that you are well-equipped to succeed in the program you have applied to at OCAD U. This can include experimentation in both traditional and digital media or any combination. Keep in mind that when it comes to your portfolio, some of the most important features we look for are skill, passion, curiosity and your ability to think creatively, shown in a diverse range of mediums. Your portfolio for admission should include:

Statement of Intent:

Your statement of intent should explain your specific interest in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U as well as what or who inspires and influences the work that you do. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself as an artist/designer/maker and provide context so we can better understand your work. It needs to be maximum 300 words, talking about yourself and your specific interest in the program you apply to, as well as what you're looking to explore, what influences you, where your art has come from and where it is going.

Further details are available through SlideRoom and you will submit your statement as part of the SlideRoom submission process.

Process Work: Include your sketchbook, process and concept development skills as part of your portfolio submission. You can document your process work as a sketchbook, creative journal, concept/idea book or a digital document. Your process work should demonstrate a routine of creative process, should link to several of the finished pieces included in the portfolio and include experimentation, photos of development, drawing, mark-making, writing, research and inspirations. You may submit more than one sketchbook but must remember that each counts as one piece in the portfolio submission. Upload your process work to SlideRoom as a multiple page PDF or a brief video.

Finished Work: Most programs* ask that you include 8 to 10 examples of your original finalized work that demonstrates a variety of your skills and approaches to art, design and media. Be sure to include examples of work that is directly related to the program that you are applying. Also include explorations in traditional, digital, and experimental mediums or any combination. Show us who you are through your work and that you are well equipped to succeed in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U. Be sure to appropriately label your work in SlideRoom using the fields provided.

Descriptions: Explain in 50 words per finished piece the process/making method/media/concept and purpose of each piece. Use the additional details field in SlideRoom as you upload your work.

*Program-Specific Guidelines: Please note, there are additional guidelines for some of our programs available through our SlideRoom portal and at the following links::

Creative Writing Portfolio Guidelines

Digital Futures First Year Undergraduate Program Portfolio Guidelines

Faculty of Design Undergraduate Program Portfolio Guidelines


International High School applicants:

Secondary School Graduation equivalent to Grade 12 in Ontario with an overall average of B or 70% numeric equivalent in the final year and:

  • If you are applying from a country or school system with English as the official language of instruction, a minimum grade of B or 70% numeric equivalent in English 12 or equivalent course is required. 
  • If you are applying from a country or school system with a language other than English as the official language of instruction, OR if your first language is not English and you have not completed at least four consecutive years of high school in an English-medium school system, you may be required to complete an English proficency test or course.

International Baccalaureate (IB):

The admission average for an IB Diploma applicant is generally calculated on 3 Higher Level and 3 Standard Level subjects. A minimum final score of 24 points is required. IB English must be included as one of these courses with a final grade of 4 or higher. Transfer credit may be awarded to students who achieve a grade of at least 5 in Higher Level IB courses that are approved as equivalent to OCAD U courses.

Please Note: Applicants not completing the full IB Diploma must provide official transcripts and proof of Secondary School Graduation equivalent to Grade 12 in Ontario with an overall average of B or 70% numeric equivalent in the final year and satisfy English entrance requirements.

British Pattern Curriculum: 

Applicants must provide proof of completion of the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE/IGCSE) with five O-Level subjects with a minimum C grade or better as well as General Certificate of Education Advanced or Advanced Supplementary Levels (GCE-A or GCE-AS) with at least two A-Levels or four AS-Levels. Minimum grade of C in each A/AS-Level is required. English at the A-Level or AS-Level is recommended but must at least be completed at the O-Level.  

Applicants with Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

OCAD U recognizes the value of AP courses and will take successful completion of these courses into consideration when assessing academic requirements. Transfer credit may be awarded to students who achieve a grade of 4 or higher in courses that are approved as equivalent to OCAD U courses.

Learn more about Academic and Admission Requirements.

If you are applying from a country or school system with a language other than English as the official language of instruction, OR if your first language is not English and you have not completed at least four consecutive years of high school in an English-medium school system, you are required to present the successful results of an English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).

Click here to learn more about English Proficiency requirements.

Some students may qualify for OCAD U's English for Art and Design program, which is built for applicant who've received an offer but do not meet the English requirements. Read more about the EAD program.


All international students must have a valid Study Permit/Student Visa before registering at OCAD U. We strongly recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as the offer of admission is received. For more information about obtaining a study permit please visit Canadian Permits & Visas.

Housing, Tuition and Insurance

All international students studying in Ontario are required to purchase the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) at the time of fee payment. Details can be found on the Health & Medical page.

OCAD U does not have its own residence accommodations; however, there are a number of housing options and resources available to help you find a place to live.

Detailed information on tuition, expenses and financial assistance can be found on the Tuition & Finances page.

Review Your Applicant Checklist

Connect with Us

The Admissions & Recruitment office makes every effort to help facilitate the application process for international students wishing to study at the OCAD U.

Please feel free to contact us by email or for a one-on-one meeting.

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